Tightening the Beltline

Motorists were forewarned, but the State Patrol found no shortage of customers as a crackdown on aggressive and inattentive drivers began Wednesday.

Traffic on the beltline is usually slow going but Wednesday rush hour had a different look. You probably saw a lot more of this: drivers pulled over, again, again, and again.

Sgt. Dennis Kruger from the State Patrol says, "We had a four-car injury crash to start the morning off, little before 8 a.m. this morning. But all 15 troopers got on the road, and they've been busy ever since. Just one traffic stop after another."

It's a crackdown designed to get motorists to slow down and pay attention.

"We've had traffic stops for following too close, speeding, not safe lane changes, no seat belts," says Kruger.

The State Patrol made more than 330 traffic stops and wrote 39 speeding tickets.

With as many as 60,000 cars and trucks using the beltline everyday, its one place there is little room for error. Kruger warns, "There is just so much traffic and so many things going on, you have to be careful."

A small mistake, or distraction at the wrong time can have terrible consequences. Like an accident less than three months ago. A woman died when a truck driver realized, too late, that traffic in front of him had stopped.

Or another crash last August that killed a four-year-old girl and her grandmother. A truck driver told police he was reaching for a pack of cigarettes.

Penny and Chuck Judd say people just drive too fast, so they try to avoid the beltline during rush hour. Chuck says, "It turned into an interstate highway which is wrong. It's a nice bypass and that's what it was meant for." Penny says, "There's too many cars there. I don't know how you control that but there's too many of them out there."

And if you think you can spot a police car in time to avoid a ticket, you may be surprised. The State Patrol has outfitted the inside of this regular-looking truck with a police radio and other gear.

Kruger says, "We're going to be using motorcycles, construction vehicles, whatever we can get our hands on. We're going to use to get our message across."

Nobody likes getting a ticket and the $156 minimum fine will get your attention. But police hope it will change habits.

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